Fail First. Fail Often. Fail Successfully.

The chances of you building anything right the first time around are pretty slim. I’m not being pessimistic, or trying to denigrate you in any way, but that’s just life.

The military have a saying, which I believe I first came across in a Tom Clancy novel, but which seems to stem from something from Helmuth von Moltke the Elder’s book “On Strategy”: “No plan survives first contact with the enemy”.

So, accept that you will fail. Plan to fail first, before you taste success, and you’ll be ready to take advantage of events.

Here’s another quote, this time the philosopher Epictetus — who was born a slave, by the way — why I think sums up dealing with failure: “When something happens, the only thing in your power is your attitude toward it; you can either accept it or resent it.”

The Epictetus quote often gets combined with a few other of his utterings, and becomes something like “you can’t control what happens to you; only your reaction to it.”

Failure is just part of the learning, and growing process. The more often you fail, the more opportunity you have to learn and grow. It’s up to you whether you take that opportunity or not.

So, fail first, often, and successfully.

Try stuff out. Be imaginative, but be prepared to go all conservative if that’s what the market is telling you to do. Make sure that you have a plan B — even if the plan B is to look at the failure points and make a new plan A; that might just be the best thing.

History is littered with examples; most big successful businesses have a story to tell about embracing failure and turning it into success.

Of course, the flipside to all this is that there are people who just don’t seem to learn from failure. Not being flippant, but if you watch any episode of Dragon’s Den or Shark Tank, you will likely see a good selection of them.

Tenacity is great, and you should persevere and never give up, whilst remembering that there is such a thing as flogging a dead horse, and it never did anyone any good.

Least of all the horse.

So, what’s my point? Merely that in order to succeed, you will fail. The more times you fail, the more chance you have of succeeding. Just try to make sure that the successes outweigh the failures…